By: Holly Interlandi
February 14, 2024

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of metal records from the Eighties (1984–1993, in our periodization schema). Series edited by Heather Quinlan. Also check out our MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM playlist at Spotify.


The author, c. 1996, listening to The Crow soundtrack.


In the days of yore, before Amazon recommendations and “For You” algorithms, we discovered music through word-of-mouth.

Most metalheads cite an older sibling or a parent as their source of obsession. Me? My parents were into folk music and Lionel Richie. My sister made me mix tapes that I loved, but there was nary a metal song to be found. I had no metalhead friends. The whole concept of metal kind of scared me.

In 1996, two things happened. First, I got really into an Australian rock band called Silverchair, whose members were constantly touting the genius of a hardcore band called Helmet. Second, I watched the 1994 film The Crow, which blew me away and happened to feature, alongside a crazy lineup of other metal and hardcore bands, a Helmet song on its soundtrack— “Milquetoast.”

I had never heard anything like it.

I had never heard anything like those cement slabs of distortion kicking the door down, grinding into a groove, and finally resolving into the short, slapped, bass-heavy blasts of guitar that Helmet was known for. I had never heard a singer punch out sardonic lines to a melody that was almost too intense to even be a melody.

I had never heard a song without a chorus, for that matter. “Milquetoast” has no real chorus. It stomps along its brutal sequence of two almost-verses, a pseudo-bridge, and a fuzzy guitar outro… and then it ends, like a friend who drops in for five minutes and a single beer before going right out the door again.

I was hooked.

Helmet made me a metalhead, more so than any other band. They made me crave riffs like the ones in “Ironhead” that sound like someone is punching you repeatedly in the face. They had me sneering at hypocrites along to Page Hamilton’s brick thud of a voice in “Exactly What You Wanted.” They got me into Tool, Korn, Metallica — every metal band I loved in the ’90s.

The coda for this story is a bizarre one. Helmet had a club show scheduled for Nashville, where I then lived, in 1997. It would have been my first real mosh pit. But I never got to go, because I had an autoimmune disease that made my blood not clot. Moshing might have killed me, had I gone. I went on steroids and had surgery and life happened and then shortly afterward, Helmet disbanded, because of course they did.

Circumstances kept me from seeing their reincarnated version until 2012, after I’d moved to LA, when they played the House of Blues in Hollywood (RIP). I was 31. It wasn’t my first mosh pit, but I went ballistic. They played “Ironhead.” They played “Exactly What You Wanted.” They played “Milquetoast” and I started popping up and down in the pit like an ecstatic whack-a-mole.

After the show, Page Hamilton came down to chat with fans at the edge of the stage. I told him I’d been waiting to see Helmet since I was 16. “Oh, so around three or four years, then?” he joked. Ha, ha. (I did not look 31 when I was 31.) “Try fifteen years,” I said.

He gave me a hug and a guitar pick, and my metal journey was complete.


MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Crockett Doob on Metallica’s ENTER SANDMAN | Dean Haspiel on Mötley Crüe’s HOME SWEET HOME | Jack Silbert on Poison’s TALK DIRTY TO ME | Adam McGovern on Dio’s INVISIBLE | Mariane Cara on Faith No More’s EPIC | Heather Quinlan on Blue Öyster Cult’s SHOOTING SHARK | Steve Schneider on UFO’s DIESEL IN THE DUST | Carlo Rotella on Primus’ JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER | Erik Davis on St. Vitus’ BORN TOO LATE | Greg Rowland on Motörhead’s ACE OF SPADES (remix) | Kathy Biehl on Twisted Sister’s WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT | Nikhil Singh on G.I.S.M.’s GAS BURNER PANIC | Erin M. Routson on Metallica’s ESCAPE | Holly Interlandi on Helmet’s MILQUETOAST | Marc Weidenbaum on Celtic Frost’s I WON’T DANCE (THE ELDERS’ ORIENT) | Amy Keyishian on Living Colour’s CULT OF PERSONALITY | Josh Glenn on Scorpions’ STILL LOVING YOU | Alycia Chillemi on Danzig’s SOUL ON FIRE | James Parker on Godflesh’s CHRISTBAIT RISING | Miranda Mellis on The Afflicted’s HERE COME THE COPS | Rene Rosa on Type O Negative’s BLACK NO. 1 | Tony Leone on Slayer’s SOUTH OF HEAVEN | Christopher Cannon on Neurosis’s LOST | Brian Berger on Black Sabbath’s HEADLESS CROSS | MÖSH CONTEST-WINNING ENTRY: Tony Pacitti on Metallica’s THE CALL OF KTULU. PLUS: CONTEST RUNNER-UP: James Scott Maloy on Accept’s MIDNIGHT MOVER.




Enthusiasms, Music